Tourism Activities In Virunga National Park

Virunga National Park is located in DRC in the Albertine rift valley and was established in 1925

Tourism Activities In Virunga National Park

Activities in Virunga National Park are such amazing ventures which tourists always engage in by visiting Virunga ranges that are habitats for mountain gorillas. Virunga National Park is located in DRC in the Albertine rift valley and was established in 1925 so as to protect the endangered mountain gorillas from poachers and is well known to be first protected area in Africa. Virunga lies on an area of almost 8090 square kilometers and the ranges are around 680m in the Semiliki river valley and 5109m in the Rwenzori Mountains. When coming from the north to the south, it expands to 300km and is along the borders of Rwanda and Uganda from the East. Virunga national Park has two active volcanoes and they are Mount Nyiramuragira and Nyiragongo, Mountain gorillas can also be found at the flanks of the Volcano Mikano. Virunga National Park is a tropical forest and is covered with savannah vegetation, forest vegetation, erosion swamps, lava plains and swamps. Different animals are hosted in the park and they include elephants, hippos, lions, African golden cat among others, bird species, reptiles, amphibians and primates like the black and white monkey, mountain gorilla, red-tailed monkey,  baboons, bush babies, vervet monkey, blue monkey among others.

Activities in Virunga national park.

Gorilla trekking.                                                                                                                                

The most attractive activity in Virunga national park is mountain gorilla trekking which involves the moving of tourists from one place to another in the park looking for mountain gorillas. The park has over 300 gorillas and these gorillas are separated into various groups, habituated gorilla families are 8 and they include Mapuwa family, Nyakamwe family, Rugendo family, Humba family, Lulengo family, Bageni family, Munyanga family and kabirizi family.

Gorilla trekking starts at 6:00 am in Virunga national park.  Bukima patrol post is the starting point and you will be with a ranger. Gorilla trekking is done by 8 people each day in the park, it takes 1-2 hours searching for mountain gorillas and once  visitors meet  gorilla groups, they are allowed for only 1 hour to interact and enjoy their lifestyle like nesting in leaves, eating and among others but visitors are supposed to put on mouth masks when they are interacting with them in order to protect these primates from human diseases and when a visitor is not feeling well or has illness like fever he or she is advised to cancel the trekking for the good of mountain gorillas.

Gorilla trekking permit in Virunga national park costs $400 per person for foreign nonresidents, $200 for East African citizen per person and $150 for Congolese residents per person. It is the cheapest park for gorilla trekking if compared to other destinations like Rwanda which costs $1500 and Uganda costs $700. Porters are also available in case a visitor needs one to support him or her during the gorilla trekking, like carrying bags as well as to carry visitors mostly during wet season when the roads are used to be slippery and there will be an additional cost of $15 per trek. Children are not allowed to do gorilla trekking especially those one under the age of 15 years.

Chimpanzee habituation               

Chimpanzee habituation is among the major interesting activities within the park. Chimpanzee habituation gives visitors a big opportunity to know almost their habits and behaviors since they are trained how to be approachable with human presence. In Virunga national park, this activity begins at 4:30 am by the rangers whereby they are the first go in the forest and spot where chimpanzees could be and then they go with visitors at 6:00 am. This helps tourists that are not able to walk long distance especially the elders.

Chimpanzee trekking in Virunga national park is carried out by a maximum of 4 people each day and once visitors meet them they are given 4 hours to interact and enjoy with them and also to know their lifestyle like eating, nesting, breastfeeding and among others. As like gorilla trekking, visitors are not allowed to do chimpanzee habituation if they have any illness such as fever, cold and among others because this disease can affect chimpanzee which can lead to the death of these primates. During this activity visitors are advised not to put on clothes which are brightly colored in yellow, red, white or orange because this colors can scare away the chimpanzees.

Nyiragongo Volcano Hike                                                   

Nyiragongo volcano hike is an amazing hike of 3470m high and is above the sea level. It is covered with diversity of snow and vegetation and it has the world’s largest lave lake. Nyiragongo last erupted in 2002 but it has erupted over 34 times. You will spend 30minutes driving from Goma using a car and 1 hour from Romagabo to Nyiragongo volcano. The trek at Nyiragongo always begins at 10:00 am from Kibati patrol post and you will have porters and ranger guides that are available for you to hire and they carry your luggage like bags during the hike and will carry you too in slippery place or in hot volcano rocks. Visitors are encouraged to carry equipment like walking sticks for support, rain gears or waterproofs in case it rains,  sweaters, hiking boots for easy movement, warm clothing’s like jackets,  hand gloves for protection from sharp stones some snacks and enough water. Hiking lasts for 4-6 or 6-7 hours depending on the speed of the traveler to reach the top of the volcano.

Senkwekwe Orphanage Center

This place was established in Virunga national park in 2010 to take care of orphaned mountain gorillas which are rescued from poachers. Senkwekwe is located near the park headquarters in Rumangabo and it is the only facility in the entire world which caters for orphaned gorillas. It was introduced after the death of wild silverback gorilla that was killed by poachers in 2007.

It is a home where 4 gorilla families live and were rescued from hands of killers and the first one to be rescued include Ndeze and Ndakasi. The likes of Yalala, Matabishi, Kaboko and Maisha died later due to health conditions. The park has gorilla doctors who take care of them in case of sickness or disease outbreak in the park. The center also offers services like shelter, food and water and many more. Visitors who stay at the center always enjoy lot and this is through playing with gorillas, seeing how they feed, interacting with them, how they play with each other, learning their behaviors, and many more

Nature Walks

Nature walks is the process of walking in the forest following the different trails with a purposes of watching several wildlife species, birds and among others. Nature walk may help visitors to be relieved from stress, relax and many more. During this activity in Virunga national park, visitors have high chances of spotting almost all wildlife in the park and these include the monkeys, buffaloes, lions, mountain gorillas, elephants, chimpanzees, baboons, antelopes, okapis, hippos on the water banks of Lake Edward as well as bird species like the African olive pigeon, white-headed wood hoopoe, narrow tailed and also visit Senkwekwe orphanage and among others.

Bird Watching 

Virunga national park is also a best place for bird lovers because it is a home of about 706 bird species. This is an interesting activity in the park whereby the visitors and rangers wake up early in the morning and go to the forest.  Watching the bird species through binocular is advisable and that is why bird lovers are advised to come with their binocular, naked eyes or following the bird’s voice when singing. In Virunga national park birds live in big trees and this is where they build on their nests, feed on tree fruits. These are some of bird species in Virunga national park as include the Rwenzori batis, Angolan swallow, chestnut throated apalis, African olive pigeon, black-headed waxbill, grey throated barbet, blue-headed sunbird, strange weaver, mountain greenbul, double toothed barbet, white-headed wood hoopoe, barred long-tailed cuckoo, handsome francolin, alpine swift, thick bellied sea eater, tropical boubou, blue-spotted wood dove and among others.

Landscape Viewing

Virunga National Park is the park with good landscape viewing among all the parks in Africa and includes the Volcanoes in the Virunga conservation area, afro-alpine vegetation, the Rwenzori Mountains, eroded valley that is spotted in the Ishango and sinda region, snow summits, forest cover and many more, whereby a visitor can get a good photographs and memorable experience.

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